St. Stephen's Community House participants

Jianwei Zheng

Jianwei ZhangJianwei Zheng

Living together, learning together

When Jianwei Zheng came to Canada in 2011, she left everything behind: her family, her friends, her culture. “I didn’t know any English. I couldn’t even say ‘Have a good day.’”

The problem came to a head when Jianwei could not understand how to apply for a birth certificate for her son, Jack. “Someone told me about the Language Training and Newcomer Services at St. Stephen’s. I was so happy to find staff who speak Mandarin and could help me.”

Jianwei also found affordable childcare at 91 Bellevue and started learning English with our free LINC (Language Instruction for New Canadians) classes. “Getting to the level three wasn’t easy. I’m proud of my progress and I can even help other people with simple interpretation.”

Perhaps more important were the friendships that developed between Jianwei and her classmates. “Together we learn, play, share our experiences. It helps me stay positive. That influenced Jack too. He likes learning and making new friends.”

Jianwei and her son are settled now. Jack will start Kindergarten in September, Jianwei’s command of English is growing and she is planning her future. “I want to become a hairstylist and open my own salon. We are very happy living here. It’s beautiful!”

Read more stories